Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP successfully defended Monrovia Nursery Company in a patent infringement lawsuit over the origin and ownership of a double-flowering Mandevilla vine.
A federal appeals court recently affirmed Monrovia Nursery’s motion for summary judgment against all claims brought by James M. Green et al. The Greens had claimed that Monrovia owed them royalties from plants originating from one of their mandevilla plant cultivars.
The case stems from a 1998 license agreement between the parties concerning a double-flowering mandevilla cultivar called ‘Rita Marie Green’ and sold by Monrovia under the brand name Pink Parfait®. In 2000, Monrovia discovered a branch mutation on another mandevilla cultivar it owned called ‘Monite’. Monrovia propagated plants from the branch mutation and developed a double-flowering cultivar, which it named ‘Monrey’. Monrovia obtained a plant patent on the ‘Monrey’ cultivar in 2003 and sold the plant under the brand name Tango Twirl®. In its lawsuit, the Greens asserted that ‘Monrey’ was derived from a branch mutation of a ‘Rita Marie Green’ plant, not a ‘Monite’ plant, and therefore Monrovia should have paid them royalties.
Finding evidence lacking that the Tango Twirl originated from the ‘Rita Marie Green’, the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California in 2019 granted Monrovia’s motion for summary judgment of non-infringement on all asserted claims. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed this judgment in early January 2021.
Lewis Roca partners David Dillard and Gregory Lampert along with firm associate, Drew Wilson, led the successful defense. A copy of the court’s orders are available here.
“We will always vigorously defend our intellectual property rights,” says Monrovia CEO Jonathan Pedersen. “We felt strongly that the claims here were without merit.”
About Monrovia Founded in 1926, Monrovia, the nation’s most valued premium consumer brand and resource in the gardening industry, was established to enhance the beauty and value of the North American landscape. Holding over 300 patents worldwide, Monrovia’s innovation continues today growing more than 4,000 plant varieties. Monrovia’s home office resides in Azusa, CA with four active nurseries located in Visalia, CA, Dayton, OR, Cairo, GA, and Granby, CT. For more information, visit www.monrovia.com
About Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP
Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP is an Am Law 200 commercial law firm handling complex matters in litigation, intellectual property, business transactions, gaming, government relations and other practice areas. Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie offices are located in Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Reno, Silicon Valley, and Tucson. For more information, visit lrrc.com.